Archive for October, 2010

Winter Markets 2010-2011

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2010 by Brian

Last week was supposed to be the last one. But even though they ended it with the traditional Harvest Festival, the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market has extended its season two weeks, so the real last one will be next week. Then we start the indoor markets: the St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market at St. John’s near Tower Grove, and the Maplewood Winter Farmers’ Market at Schlafly’s. Both are monthly, on the second and third (but sometimes fourth) Saturday of the month. Got it?

I’m not sure I do, either. So here’s how the schedule for buying fresh produce, local meats, and artisan tea, bread, and of course, chocolate, really looks. (We’ve been told that there are a lot of vendors signed up already, so you can be sure of a great selection of goods.)

All dates are Saturdays, and all times are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

  • November 6 – Tower Grove Market in the park, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • November 13 – St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market
  • November 20 – Maplewood Winter Farmers’ Market
  • December 11 – St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market
  • December 18 – Maplewood Winter Farmers’ Market
  • January 8 – St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market
  • January 29 – Maplewood Winter Farmers’ Market
  • February 12 – St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market
  • February 26 – Maplewood Winter Farmers’ Market
  • March 12 – St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market
  • March 26 – Maplewood Winter Farmers’ Market
  • April 9 – St. Louis Community Farmers’ Market

 

Hope that helps — see you there!

Chocolate Basics: Dark, Milk and White

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 by Brian

In the past couple of years I’ve learned a lot about chocolate. Still have much to learn (I know some chocolatiers who know more about chocolate than I know about everything), but I’ve got a good handle on some of it.

I get a lot of questions about what makes different kinds of chocolate different, so let’s start with some of the basics.

There are two fundamental kinds of chocolate: dark and milk. Dark chocolate is simply chocolate, sugar, and a bit of vanilla (to, ironically, bring out more chocolate flavor) and soy lecithin, which helps bind it all together.

Chocolate is an amazingly complex food, with hundreds of different compounds in it. Simply, though, it is made from cocoa butter and cocoa solids (which is essentially cocoa powder). Cocoa butter is completely flavorless, but smooth and creamy. All the flavor comes from the cocoa solids.

When you buy a bar of dark chocolate that has a percentage on it, that number is telling you how much of the bar is chocolate — both cocoa butter and cocoa solids. The rest is sugar (with less than 1 percent vanilla and soy lecithin).

So a bar of 64% is 64 parts chocolate and about 38 parts sugar.

What they don’t tell you outright is the proportion of cocoa butter (smoothness) to cocoa solids (flavor). You can calculate that, though, by looking at the nutrition label to compare the serving size to the amount of fat.

(Beware, math coming up.)

Let’s say our 64% bar has a serving size of 43 grams, and has 18 grams of fat.  If we divide 18 by 43, we learn that about 42% of the chocolate in the bar is cocoa butter, and about 58% is cocoa solids. If we multiply the 42% (0.42) of cocoa butter times the 64% (0.64) of chocolate in the bar, we find that about 27% of the bar is cocoa butter (smoothness). Similarly, the 58% (0.58) of cocoa solids times 64% (0.64) of total chocolate in the bar means that 37% of the bar is cocoa solids (flavor). Adding cocoa butter (27%) to cocoa solids (37%) gets us back to the 64% of total chocolate.

(Math ends here.)

If you add milk of any kind to the chocolate, you get milk chocolate. The milk can take the form of liquid milk, milk solids, condensed milk, or a combination thereof. You’re adding the fat from the cream, making the chocolate even smoother, and the sugar from the milk, making it even sweeter. And you’re using less chocolate, so you get more sweetness and less chocolate flavor.

Generally speaking, milk chocolate is about 25-40% chocolate (the rest mostly sugar and milk) and dark chocolate is 50% or more chocolate (the rest mostly sugar).

Note that we’re not talking about what we refer to as “gas station” chocolate. If you buy chocolate at a gas station, there’s a good chance you’re going to get something else besides these ingredients, ranging from other oils (palm kernel oil is a cheap alternative to cocoa butter and gives it a waxy taste and texture) to artificial flavors.

What about white chocolate? Technically (and legally in the U.S.) it’s not chocolate because it doesn’t have any cocoa solids in it — so it has no chocolate flavor. It does have cocoa butter (if it’s real white chocolate), milk, sugar, vanilla and soy lecithin. So it’s flavor is…vanilla.

Semisweet and bittersweet? We’ll save that for later.

Tea Time

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2010 by Brian

We at Kakao have been using tea to flavor our chocolates for quite a while now. We’ve been working with Kateri Meyer of Traveling Tea, who provides us with sublime blends of chai, earl grey and rose petal teas — not to mention dried peppermint – for our truffles.

That’s tea in chocolate. What about tea with chocolate? We’re pleased to announce a special tasting class with Kateri, where we’ll pair special chocolates and special teas and show you why they work well together, and how you can best enjoy chocolate and tea anytime. You’ll discover some great new teas (WuYi Oolong, Genmaicha, Puerh, and Morawka Estate Ceylon, for starters) and rediscover some old favorites like Irish Breakfast and Ancient Forest — believe me, this is like no other Ancient Forest tea you’ve ever had before.

(Okay, here’s the deal on Ancient Forest tea. It’s so named because the it comes from 500 year old trees in Vietnam – they actually have to climb the trees to pick the tea leaves.  And purchasing this tea saves rainforests. It’s kind of like traveling to Vietnam in a cup!)

 

Did I mention chocolate? Pumpkin truffles, sea salt caramels, and some very special chocolates we’re creating just for this occasion. Plus we’ll have all your favorites available for purchase.

So mark your calendars for Sunday, October 24 at 2 p.m. for the Tea and Truffle Tasting Class at Kakao, 2301 S. Jefferson. Cost is only $10 for a good amount of both tea and chocolate, and seating is limited, so please call 314.771.2310 to reserve your spot soon.